Women 'struggling' in Hollywood, according to new study

Kathryn Bigelow Kathryn Bigelow was the first female director to win an Oscar in 2010

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Only 9% of directors of the top 250 grossing Hollywood films in 2012 were women, a study has found.

Despite the low figure, it is a 4% increase from 2011's numbers, the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film said.

The research found women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers and editors.

It also showed women were more likely to work in the documentary, drama and animated film genres.

The Centre has been conducting the industry survey for more than a decade to track trends.

The number of female producers has held steady at 25% for the past two years, while female writers rose to 15%, up from a low of 10% in 2006.

The number of female editors between 1998-2012 has remained fairly constant in the 20%-21% range. Cinematographers have fluctuated between 2%-4%, although figures for 2012 were on the low end of the range.

No women have made it onto the shortlist for best director at this year's Oscars, while Zero Dark Thirty is the only best picture nominee to have been directed by a woman - Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow.

A separate study by the Sundance Institute and Women in Film showed women fared better in the independent film sector.

Looking at films shown at the Sundance Film Festival over the past decade - and accounting for 820 narrative and documentary films - researchers found women represented 29.8% of some 11,000 filmmakers.

There are more women working in documentary films than narrative films, but study director Stacy Smith said her research found that "as commerce moves in, females move out".

Women In Film president Cathy Schulman added: "This data shows us that there is a higher representation of female filmmakers in independent film as compared to Hollywood - but it also highlights the work that is still to be done for women to achieve equal footing in the field."

The study also found that films directed by women employ greater numbers of women behind the camera than those made by men.

The organisers of last year's Cannes Film Festival were criticised when the list of 22 films nominated for its top prize, the Palme d'Or, was entirely made up of male directors.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I think observers of the movie scene should be heartened that filmmakers such as Kathryn Bigelow are making films that aren't necessarily what used to be called "women's pictures". Nobody watching any of Bigelow's recent films would conclude it's been directed by a woman. That's real gender equality, not simply percentages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    We need more black lesbian 'short' people in wheelchairs to get to the top of their professions, and until that day comes more and more 'organisations' will fight for the injustices of straight white able bodied mankind for being competitive and creative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Who cares? Why should there be parity? Connections and talent (in that order) is what's required....

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    and that Hurt Locker movie should never have won an award. Hollywood took another opportunity to turn a movie about the personal experiences of military heroes into another anti-war rant.
    we should not be surpised at them by now - ruining good shows at every opportunity

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I would say something about who runs Hollywood but that will get my post removed perhaps removed anyway. I stopped going to the movies 30 years ago because I refuse to give these people my money and support the apartheid of a victimized people whose land is stolen daily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    So, perhaps this news confirms that straight white men are still in control of the world, even though the serial whingers try to claim otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film?

    I wonder what the Centre for the Study of Women in the Centre of the Study of Women in Television and Film, had to say about the amount of women in that organisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    So what's Hollywood to do, establish an affirmative action program and set up quotas for women directors and every other under-represented group? Who's going to finance movies made by directors hired for diversity and not necesarily talent? And more to the point, will they make money?

    Maybe women should finance films, then they could have a say in who directs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Who cares whether a director is male or female? The best directors more often than not will make the best films which will end up being more successful. Surely that is what matters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Why was pointing out women have far less interest in the tools of film making (ie cameras) than men moderated out ?

    Was it because the officially correct BBC answer as to why there are so few women film directors was that all men are evil ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    SO would it be better if men were in the lower percentile?! Come on! There are 2 sexes and one of us has to be better. These stories make me think that the world won't be happy until men are inferior to women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Artists with original ideas- male or female- are the ones who are struggling in Hollywood. That is, assuming that they haven't given up and gone independent

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    know what you are in for. competing with the boys , the boys close ranks . or get mean. and so do women once in that place.
    directing is a power and ego game and money shouts the loudest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I know lots of women who work in traditional mens grades such as lighting and camera. Its about skill and application nowadays.I think Peakeen has it right, its just spin from a single issue group. It is a very difficult industry to rise to the top in and American cinema production is about 20 years behind the UK in some ways. Getting to be the director is notoriously difficult in any country

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Women just have too much sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    And? A good filmmaker is passionate about the art, and this requires an investment in the story being told. The question is, is there A: a supply of passionate filmmakeing women who have mysteriously been excluded, and B: is there a market for their stories.

    I think this is a supply side problem - lack of competent, invested people rather than an active exclusionary effort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Struggling? Then, of course, a body with a title like "The Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film" is bound to put that kind of spin on it.

    Couldn't it be that women are simply not competing in this area they have other priorities?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    More interesting would be the financial background/class/education of all those in this who-you-know industry that so many talented people are never given an opportunity in, rather than trying to split the proletariat

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Yes and the top women directors.. er... think like men.


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